Pre Eclampsia support

For Women & their families who have suffered with Pre Eclampsia, Eclampsia, HELLP syndrome, Pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH) and related conditions.
 
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 My Experience of PE

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ClaireS
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Location : Leicestershire, UK

PostSubject: My Experience of PE   Tue 27 May 2008, 12:58 pm

Hi All.
I have 'lurked' on various forums, but have never quite managed to post my story, so here goes......

My pregnancy took me by surprise in 2005, and was even more of a surprise when I went for my 12 week scan, only to discover that I was 19 weeks pregnant.

From about 30 weeks, my blood pressure was slightly raised, so I was seeing the midwife every week.

At 33 weeks I was really uncomfortable all night, but I just put it down to being pregnant. At 33+3, I nipped out of work at lunchtime, for my weekly visit to the midwife. My blood pressure was even higher than it had been and she told me to go home and put my feet up, and a midwife would be out to see me at home the following day. For the next few days, I sat at home doing as I was told, and a midwife came out to me each day. My blood pressure remained high, but there were no signs of protein in my urine. At 33+5 I had a really bad night, I had excruciating pains under my ribs, and was really uncomfortable. The midwife came out the following morning, my blood pressure was still raised, but I still only had trace protein in my urine. She sent me to hospital as a precaution, as my blood pressure had been raised all week and I had also had the pains, she suggested that I took an overnight bag as they may keep me in for observation! Ė She said that there was no rush and it would be fine for me to wait the hour or so for my husband to get home from work and take me. When I reached hospital, a few hours later, my blood pressure was sky high and my protein was +3. I was taken straight upstairs, they took some blood and there was a constant flow of people coming in to see me. They then gave me a steroid injection Ďjust in case they had to deliverí. A consultant then came to see me and gave me the good news which was that I was in hospital, and the bad news was that my liver was failing and that they were going to deliver my baby. They stuck a canula in my hand, which on the first attempt made me bleed everywhere, and I then had magnesium sulphate pumped into me. The room started to spin and I remember the Dr saying that it would be fine when they pumped fluids into me. I remained conscious, but I donít really remember a lot after that until they took me to theatre and delivered the baby. She was 3lb 7oz, and I was really lucky in that I got to hold her very quickly before she was whisked off to the NNU, then a few hours later my husband came back with a Polaroid photo of her. I was in high dependency for the next 24hrs, and was then transferred into the 8 bay part of the maternity ward Ė but thatís another story!

Hannah is now 2yrs 6months and a very active toddler. I look at her and realise how lucky we were, but I still ask myself all the questions, why it happened, what exactly happened etc.. I tried discussing it with my GP and he told me to look PE up on the internet!

Claire
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clearmoonlight13
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PostSubject: Re: My Experience of PE   Tue 27 May 2008, 2:54 pm

Hi there
Your story is so similar to mine, I can see all these things as you were telling them - the canulas, the people coming in and out, the doctor giving the news of live starting to fail and the subsequent delivery of our baby...
I can't believe you GP told you to look PE on the internet!! I have to say my GP is very understanding, and even knows his limits - when I asked for a refereal to a specialist consultant, he gave it straight away with no problems.
I have to say I already knew about PE, to the point that when things started going wrong for me, I already suspected I had it, even before anyone mentioned it. However, with HELLP, it was a different thing, I had never heard of it, didn't know anything about it, and ended up looking it up on the internet.
I think it is so important that health professionals have more knowledge about these conditions so they can advice and help their patients.
Thank you for sharing your story with us
xxxx
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Liz Pidgley
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PostSubject: Re: My Experience of PE   Tue 27 May 2008, 5:33 pm

Hi Claire,
Welcome to the site - Im glad you managed to post! I hope that you can find some information & support here.
(For what its worth, I too am amazed at you GP advising the internet!)

Im not sure what you know about HELLP but I hope you find the following helpful.


HELLP is the medical term for one of the most serious complications of pre-eclampsia, in which there is a combined liver and blood clotting disorder.
H stands for Haemolysis (rupture of the red blood cells);
EL stands for Elevated Liver enzymes in the blood (reflecting liver damage)
LP stands for Low blood levels of Platelets (specialized cells which are vital for normal clotting).
HELLP is as dangerous as eclampsia (convulsions) and probably more common, although it is less easy to diagnose. Some specialists believe that HELLP may be on the increase for reasons which are not known.

HELLP syndrome may be preceded by clear signs of pre-eclampsia - most typically high blood pressure, protein in the urine and swelling of hands, feet or face. But, like eclampsia, it can also arise out of the blue without any of the classic warning signs. The typical presenting symptom is pain just below the ribs (Ďepigastric painí), sometimes accompanied by vomiting and headaches. This pain is sometimes confused with the discomfort of heartburn, a very common problem during pregnancy. But, unlike heartburn, the pain of HELLP syndrome is not burning, does not spread upwards towards the throat and is not relieved by antacid. The pain is often very severe and is associated with tenderness over the liver. It is not uncommon for women with this pain to be diagnosed as suffering from some other acute abdominal condition, typically inflammation of the gall bladder (cholecystitis).

As with eclampsia, HELLP syndrome is most likely to occur immediately after delivery - sometimes developing with devastating speed. However, it can arise at any stage during the second half of pregnancy - and some rare cases have been recorded even earlier.

HELLP syndrome may be associated with one or more of the following problems:

* Severely disturbed blood clotting function, leading to heavy, uncontrollable bleeding, particularly after surgery;

* Severe liver damage, which can lead to failure or even rupture of this vital organ;

* Severe kidney problems, including kidney failure;

* Breathing difficulties, which may be severe enough for the mother to need artificial ventilation.

* Stroke (cerebral haemorrhage) with or without eclampsia (convulsions).

The diagnosis of HELLP syndrome can only be confirmed in hospital, and emergency admission is essential. Once the syndrome is diagnosed the baby should be delivered as soon as the motherís condition is stable, regardless of the maturity of the baby, since delivery is the only cure for this life-threatening condition.
If the blood clotting system is severely disturbed it may be necessary to give transfusions of the platelets essential to clotting before delivery can take place.

It is not uncommon for the symptoms to become worse - or to develop for the first time - in the 48 hours following delivery, and treatment in an intensive care unit may be necessary. All treatment is aimed at supporting the motherís systems which have failed (liver, kidney, lungs, clotting) until such time as they have recovered enough to cope on their own. Providing no permanent damage has occurred, the mother should enjoy a full recovery. This may take as little as a few days or as long as two to three months (although not all of it may need to be spent in hospital) depending on the severity of the motherís problems.

HELLP is a maternal problem which has no specific effects on the unborn baby. However, as with all cases of severe pre-eclampsia, the baby may suffer growth restriction and even distress as a result of the underlying cause - a shortage of maternal blood flow to the placenta. But in most cases of HELLP delivery is for the motherís benefit, sometimes with tragic results for babies who are too premature to survive outside the womb.

About one sufferer in every 20 will suffer a recurrence of HELLP in her next pregnancy. However, there is no way of predicting who is most likely to suffer a recurrence and no specific means of prevention, although treatment with low-dose aspirin may be recommended in cases where the syndrome developed relatively early in pregnancy - ie before 32 weeks.
For optimum safety, any woman who has suffered HELLP in one pregnancy should be considered Ďat higher riskí in the next pregnancy and monitored carefully throughout with a view to detecting signs of recurrence at the earliest possible stage. Former sufferers may like to consider preconception counselling with a 'high risk pregnancy' expert to devise an appropriate antenatal care programme for the next pregnancy.

This might include the use of aspirin and / or heparin in a subsequent pregnancy and certainly an increase in the monitoring available to you.

What is certain, that looking back there was nothing you did or didnt do during your pregnancy that caused this condition.
It sounds so lame to say it was bad luck, but in most part that is exactly what it was. There may be underlying conditions that predisposed you unknowingly to this condition - like 'sticky blood' syndromes, however it is decided more or less at conception how well the arteries in the placenta work.

I will post soon on what - we think - pre eclampsia really is and questions you might like to ask your GP / Consultant to try & understand what happened to you & what to expect if you should want another pregnancy.

Meantime I do hope this helps but please let me know if I can help you further. Im sure your story will be very familiar to many.

Warmest Wishes to you & your family.
Liz
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ClaireS
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PostSubject: Re: My Experience of PE   Thu 05 Jun 2008, 8:56 am

Thanks for the replies, it is a great relief to have finally written something down, and good to know I'm not alone.

Thanks for all the information Liz, I had heard of HELLP, but that is about all I knew!


Best Wishes.


Claire
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